disability cruising, Handicap, Traveling with disabilities

Disabled Cruisers Guide to Cozumel, Mexico

Cozumel, Mexico

For the disabled cruiser visiting Cozumel, there are three cruise piers. Which one you arrive at will depend on which cruise line you use. However, you will experience long walk/roll to exit port at all three piers. The cruise piers extend far into the ocean  and can require you walk/roll up to 3/10 of a mile from your cruise ship to the port exit.  The pier at Puerta Maya is used by Carnival Corp cruise lines and is the most accessible with the sidewalks in good repair and the stores having flat entrance. The International Pier and  Punta Langosta have wheelchair access ramps that can be steeper than wheelchair ramps in the United States.

The Disabled Cruiser will have plenty of accessible things to do on the island and on the mainland. You can enjoy an accessible driving tour of Cozumel island, an ATV tour, accessible snorkeling, an accessible beach visit, or an accessible driving tour to Mayan ruins on mainland. 

The wheelchair accessible Cozumel ferry to Playa del Carmen has ramps at both ferry terminals. While the ferry can be used by wheelchair users, assistance may be required. The wheelchair ramp has wooden boards along the ramp which the wheels run into, and the ramp does not come all the way down into the ferry so the height different is the size of a typical step. Electric wheelchair users in particular may have difficulties with this.

There are very few wheelchair accessible vans in Cozumel. With 5 or 6 ships in port each day, it can be a challenge to insure that the disabled cruiser will get an accessible van. You should book your Cozumel accessible transportation months in advance. When you  think of a wheelchair accessible vehicle it normally has a higher roof, or a lowered floor. Most of the accessible vehicles in Cozumel simply had a lift that puts the wheelchair in the very back of the van, and it takes some manipulation to get the person in safely without hitting their head on the door latches, and roof of the vehicle.

The sandy beaches in Cozumel are not wheelchair accessible. While some beaches allow wheelchair users to roll over pavement to get close to the sand, no wheelchair access ramps lead all the way to the water, and some beaches have steps to reach them. Many bathrooms on the island are not wheelchair accessible. Some bathrooms have steps to enter them, and the ones that do have ramps, can have small toilet stalls. Entrances to restaurants usually don’t have ramps and most have a step or two to enter them.

Cozumel has an abundance of Private Wheelchair Accessible Shore Excursions from various vendors on the island.

Cozumel, Mexico

Cozumel is Mexico’s largest island.

San Miguel is Cozumel’s only town and Plaza del Sol, the main square is where you will find craft and souvenir shops.

A trip to the Maya site of Tulum on the mainland is a long day excursion from here.

Snorkelling and scuba diving are also available for visitors to try.

The western side of the island offers some good beaches, with light winds and mainly calm waters.

Visit Chankanaab National Park where you can scuba, snorkel and wander or relax in the gardens.

Many visitors head to one of the all inclusive resorts here, a day pass will enable you to use their facilities.

There are lots of excursions available such as a dolphin swim, speedboat trip and an ATV jungle adventure.

Where You’re Docked

San Miguel de Cozumel cruise port has three different piers for docking. They all are located on the west side of the island.

Punta Langosta Pier Cruise Terminal – Punta Langosta pier is located right downtown San Miguel. You can walk on your own to tour the city. There is also a taxi rank in front the pier. Taxis are relatively inexpensive. If you want to rent a car, the closest offices are 5 blocks from the cruise ship pier.

International Pier – The largest vessels (Royal Caribbean and NCL ships) dock at International Pier. This is Cozumel’s oldest pier and is approx 1.5 miles from downtown San Miguel (to the south). The distance is easily walkable (about 30 min), and pleasant as it is along the waterfront promenade. There is also a taxi rank in front the cruise ship pier. It is about a 5 min taxi ride to San Miguel. After disembarkation, passengers walk through a shopping plaza with various shops, restaurants, bars. This is a shopping area exclusively for cruise tourists. All the venues here open only during cruise ship calls. Prices here tend to be higher than in the city.

Carnival’s Puerta Maya Cruise Terminal – The third Cozumel cruise ship pier was built by Carnival Corporation and serves exclusively its brand companies’ vessels. Puerta Maya is located 1/2 mile south of The International Pier. The terminal (aka “Little Cozumel”) has the most modern and diverse facilities. Carnival Corp.’s Puerta Maya, located about 5 miles from San Miguel, acts as a standalone destination, with restaurants, jewelry stores, local craft carts and a beach.

Note: if these piers are too busy, ships occasionally anchor off-shore and tender passengers into the town of San Miguel.

Car and scooter hire is available within a 5 minute walk away from the International Pier area. When using taxis, ask and agree a price before setting off.

Good to Know

Be aware of mopeds, motorcycles and bicycles. They’re prevalent, and drivers won’t always yield to pedestrians. As you should when visiting any city, leave unnecessary valuables in your cabin safe. Finally, be sure to negotiate and settle on a fare before getting into any taxi.

Getting Around

On Foot: Downtown San Miguel is very walkable, with most shops, bars and restaurants clustered around the waterfront. As it gets very hot in Cozumel, most passengers opt to take a taxi into San Miguel from the International Pier, and those arriving in Puerta Maya. 

By Taxi: Taxis line up at the entrances to the piers and cost about $5 to $10 per ride to San Miguel, depending on which pier you dock at. Rates to the beaches can cost $10 to $15; to avoid being ripped off, be sure to settle on a fare before departing. Some drivers overcharge for longer trips, so bargain carefully. For the Disabled Cruiser docking at Puerta Maya, the taxi stand is at the back end of the Puerta Maya village.  There is no curb from the sidewalk to where the taxis pull up, which is very convenient for wheelchair users.

By Moped: This is a popular and inexpensive way for one or two people to get around Cozumel. But beware of the dangers associated with this, not only having to deal with reckless drivers, but also the hidden stop signs and stretches of severely potholed roads also present hazards.

Shopping

Mexican arts and crafts like hammocks, jade jewelry, ponchos, carvings and leather goods, make great souvenirs. Tequila is also a popular take-home item; though the prices might not be the lowest on the island, the selection of premium tequilas at the Los Cinco Soles store in San Miguel is impressive.

Note: Remember this about the sale of black coral, which is an endangered species: Though there are dealers wielding government-issued permits to sell the stuff, coral jewelry is listed on the U.S. Department of State’s list of “wildlife and wildlife products” to avoid. Buyers risk confiscation and fines.

Food in Cozumel is rich with cultural traditions and fresh ingredients. You’ll find plenty of pork, chicken and seafood offerings and dishes that draw heavily on Mayan culture in the Yucatan region. (That means plenty of corn tortillas, beans and rich sauces.)

Points of Interest

  • Mayan Ruins – Extensive ruins of the ancient Mayan civilization are scattered across the region, including Coba and the renowned coastal site of Tulum on mainland Mexico. The Disabled Cruiser will encounter steep ramps and sand at Tulum. There are two flights of stairs to enter Tulum and a ramp leads alongside them. The ramps are among the steepest in the Caribbean and most wheelchair users will need assistance to ascend it. Some spots in Tulum have soft sand so you’ll need to choose your route carefully.
  • Beaches – Dig your toes into the white sands of Cozumel’s coast, where aquamarine waters beckon you to the breathtaking shores of Playa Mia Grand Beach Park and secluded Passion Island Beach. For the Disabled Cruiser, there are a limited number of beach wheelchairs and they are on a first-come, first-served basis.
  • X-Caret – The ecological/archaeological theme park of X-Caret is one of the most popular attractions on the Yucatan Peninsula. Among its great treasures are underground rivers, a replica of a Mayan village, and a Mexican cultural show. The Disabled Cruiser in a wheelchair can enjoy X-Caret Park, since the facilities are accessible. They also have wheelchairs for rent. Since some of the areas of the park can be very hilly and steep in some spots, the park does provide a handicapped map. The walkways are made out of layer stones and some area are not smooth.
  • Playa del Carmen – Alabaster-white beaches, gentle surf, coral reefs and a slow lifestyle make Playa del Carmen the place for backpackers, archaeological buffs and New Age sun worshipers. For the Disabled Cruiser, Playa del Carmen is proud to host the very first beach designed for the physically disabled in all of Mexico. This public beach is located in the very heart of the tourist center of Playa del Carmen. This beach offers shade, showers, drinking water, assistance and special amphibious apparatus for those who require additional help to enjoy the warm tropical water of the Caribbean ocean and the powdery white sand of the Riviera Maya. One of the convenience amenities that have been installed is a long, stable boardwalk for easy access to the waters edge. This boardwalk makes it possible for those in wheelchairs, or for those who have difficulty walking through the sand to make it safely to the water. The amphibious chairs, loungers and walkers are available for use free of charge and assistance is available by request. The amphibious wheel chair has a unique design that makes it easy to handle for the end user and assistants. The sun loungers are mobile and are also amphibious.
  • Chankanaab National Park – This park is home to a world-renowned ecosystem and natural aquarium with more than 60 species of tropical fish, crustaceans and corals and the only botanical garden on the island. For the Disabled Cruiser there are complementary sand wheelchairs to transport the disabled around the beach, botanical gardens and crocodile exhibit.
  • Snorkeling & Diving – It is no secret that Cozumel excels with clear waters and spectacular reefs.
  • Cozumel Museum & El Cedral – The museum houses two floors of exhibits. El Cedral is a small century-old ruin, the island’s first settlement founded by Spanish explorers in 1518.
  • Boating Adventure – Refresh your spirit and enjoy sailing, fishing, and other water sports.

Cozumel Accessible Excursions

Sitting just off the gorgeous Yucatan coast, Cozumel revels in its mythic white-sand beaches and world-class coral reefs. Yet Cozumel is also the last stronghold of the Mayas, who settled the island in 300 A.D. Residents still speak Maya, and sometimes wear traditional Mayan clothing. Nearby stand the great pyramids and temples of their ancestors.

Highlights of Cozumel Accessible Van Driving Tour

This 5 hour accessible Cozumel driving tour begins with your local, English-speaking driver/guide meeting you at the cruise dock in a comfortable, air-conditioned accessible van. The tour starts out by taking you on a scenic drive along the beautiful coast line as you make your way to your first stop, Discover Mexico. With your private tour guide, you will explore at this fascinating theme park you will learn about the diverse culture, history, and architecture of Mexico.

Tour Highlights:

  • Discover Mexico Park
  • El Cedral Village
  • Tequila tour or optional Mayan Center
  • Scenic drives and photo opportunities

The Highlights of Cozumel Accessible Van Driving Tour includes:

  • Private guide/driver
  • Guide/driver familiar with the needs of disabled travelers
  • Accessible van transportation
  • Accessible step free routes

Your experienced tour guide will direct you to accessible entrances, follow accessible routes, and point you in the right direction for accessible shopping, restaurants and bar locations near the beach. The tour is designed to visit the unique highlights of Cozumel at a relaxing pace with a knowledgeable guide that has plenty of experience touring with limited mobility travelers.

Accessible Cozumel Beach Break

The 6 hour Accessible Cozumel Beach Break is a perfect way to spend a relaxing day with beautiful crystal blue water, white powdery sand and exotic palm trees. Your private driver picks you up at the cruise dock in an accessible, air-conditioned van. You will then enjoy a short ride to the beautiful accessible beach where you have the option of using a beach wheelchair, accessible restrooms and restaurants.

Tour Highlights:

  • An accessible beach
  • Access to a beach wheelchair (first-come, first-served basis)
  • Accessible bathrooms
  • Accessible restaurants near the beach
  • Accessible non-beach areas nearby with flat floors and ramps
  • Access to snorkeling gear and snorkel guides (subject to availability)
  • Nearby jungle area where you can explore replica ruins, and learn about local history and culture

The accessible Cozumel beach break is the perfect excursion for people with limited mobility who wish to spend a day in the warm Caribbean sun.

Deluxe Accessible Cozumel Shore Excursion

The 6 hour Deluxe Accessible Cozumel Shore Excursion combines the very best things of Cozumel all in one tour; Beach, Tequila and an ancient Mayan Village. Your driver/guide will meet you at the cruise dock in a comfortable, air-conditioned accessible van.

Tour Highlights:

  • Visit to El Cedral Village
  • Tequila tasting
  • Accessible beach stay
  • Accessible shopping
  • Scenic drives and photo opportunities
  • Lunch at accessible restaurant (cost not included)

The Deluxe Accessible Cozumel Shore Excursion includes:

  • Private guide/driver
  • Guide/driver familiar with the needs of disabled travelers
  • Accessible van transportation
  • Accessible step free routes

For Cozumel Accessible Excursions please click here.

Disability-Cruising.com

cjlphotos.com

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